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Kentucky football update

Now that the Blue-White spring game is history, it's time to take a look at the current state of Kentucky football.  First of all, we will start with our departing seniors:

  • Wesley Woodyard is the subject of a Rivals article today.  Despite Woodyard's outstanding college career, his size is a major concern for the NFL.  Most observers think that he will go in the middle rounds of the draft.  Other names who achieved greatly in college but aren't expected to go high in the draft include Colt Brennan of Hawai'i, Harry Douglas of Louisville and Craig Steltz of LSU.  Rivals currently has Woodyard rated as the #7 outside linebacker.

  • André Woodson is currently ranked by Rivals as the #5 quarterback.  NFL Draft Scout has him currently going in the second or third round, and also has him as the #5 quarterback.  The biggest concerns about Woodson appear to be his quirky release and his lack of mobility, despite his obvious athleticism.

  • Rafael Little is currently ranked as the #18 running back.  Oft injured and injured during the Senior Bowl, Little is considered by most to be a good third-down back prospect, but there are concerns about his durability.  He is expected to go in the later rounds.

  • Keenan Burton is the #10 ranked wide receiver prospect on Rivals.  Most observers expect him to be on the cusp of the 2nd and 3rd rounds.  Injury, strength, and route running concerns are most often mentioned as negatives.

  • Jacob Tamme is currently showing up at the # 13 tight end on Rivals.  He is considered a marginal top-200 prospect, and the major negatives in his case are strength, power, and overall size.  Look for him to be taken sometime on the second day of the draft.  Minnesota is said to be especially interested.

  • Steve Johnson is not listed on Rivals as an NFL draft prospect, but NFL Draft Scout has him going on the cusp of the 6th and 7th rounds.

Concerning the Blue-White game, this was the first time since Rich Brooks has been head coach that the team was deep enough for a "draft" to be held, with OC Joker Phillips running the Blue squad, and DC Steve Brown the White.  This process apparently produced a very competitive and interesting game, with the Blue squad winning in the end, 23-22.

The quarterback battle was fought to an apparent draw, with Mike Hartline and Curtis Pulley both bringing a pretty good game.  From the reports I have read, however, there were numerous dropped passes by both sides, which highlights the weakness in our receivers that we both expected and dreaded.  Dickie Lyons apparently had a good game, but none of the other receivers were impressive.  Fortunately, we have some help coming there in the summer from our recruiting class, including 4* freshman Aaron Boyd.  E.J. Fields, Randall Cobb or Matt Roark could also help next year at that position, but we do need help there.  Keep in mind that DeMoreo Ford has an injury that could keep him out all of next year, and besides Lyons, he is the most experienced receiver on the team.

Apparently, third-string QB Will Fidler made the longest pass of the day, a 57-yard strike to Dickie Lyons, Jr.  Considering that both Hartline and Pulley missed open receivers on verticals in this game, and Fidler is just now regaining practice form after a shoulder injury, Brooks thinks that there could be a third entrant into the quarterback derby this summer.  Brooks also pointed out that UK's secondary is perhaps the deepest and best in many years at Kentucky, which contributed significantly to the lack of efficiency in the passing game.  Among the running backs, Alfonso Smith stood head and shoulders above everyone else, rushing for 170 yards on 20 carries.  Derrick Locke managed 39 yards on 11 carries and Moncell Allen had 17 yards on 5 attempts.

What do we take away from all this?  Well, looking at the bright side, I'd say we have at least two and possibly three serviceable quarterbacks.  Kentucky is deeper now at almost every position than they have been since before probation.  The defensive secondary seems to be poised to be among the best in recent memory at Kentucky, and the O- and D-lines are both significantly deeper and better than last year.

On the negative side, we have issues at wide receiver, and the running game was not tremendously impressive.  Bottom line, we are not likely to have the kind of offensive firepower we had this year.  Hopefully, the summer will see some improvement in our skill positions, and if so, Kentucky could be poised for another fine season on the gridiron.